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Christianity in the Twentieth CenturyA World History$
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Brian Stanley

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691196848

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691196848.001.0001

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The Voice of Your Brother’s Blood

The Voice of Your Brother’s Blood

Christianity, Ethnic Hatred, and Genocide in Nazi Germany and Rwanda

(p.150) Chapter Seven The Voice of Your Brother’s Blood*
Christianity in the Twentieth Century

Brian Stanley

Princeton University Press

The chapter assesses the systematic violence inflicted on Jews in Nazi Germany and on Tutsis in Rwanda in 1994. What was arguably novel about the twentieth-century phase in the long history of the brutality that human beings have periodically shown to each other was the ideological prominence that was repeatedly given to the spurious idea of “race” as a legitimating basis for systematic violence. The approximately 6 million Jews who were slaughtered in the Holocaust or Shoah, and the 800,000 to 1 million Tutsi and Hutu who were killed in Rwanda in 1994, died because they belonged to an ethnic category whose very existence was deemed to threaten the health and even survival of the nation to which they belonged. Indeed, ideas of racial difference played a more prominent part in the history of collective human violence than in previous centuries. It is also undeniable that the churches in many cases proved receptive to such ideas to an extent that poses uncomfortable questions for Christian theology. For Christians, what is doubly disturbing about the unprecedented scale and rate of ethnic killing in these two cases is the seeming impotence of their faith to resist the destructive power of racial hatred. Ultimately, the two holocausts—in Nazi Germany and in Rwanda—both tell a depressing story of widespread, though never total, capitulation by churches and Christian leaders to the insidious attractions of racial ideology, and of the habitual silence or inaction of many Christians in the face of observed atrocities.

Keywords:   systematic violence, Jews, Nazi Germany, Tutsis, Rwanda, Holocaust, racial difference, Christianity, ethnic killing, racial hatred

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